Audi did it last year. Now it's time for Mercedes-Benz and BMW to catch up.
Americans have gobbled up SUVs and crossovers at a rapid pace for years, but two of the most prominent luxury brands are now just about to cross a threshold that was already navigated by the industry as a whole back in 2002. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are primed to sell more SUVs and crossovers than traditional cars in America for the first time in history—though their late arrival is not due to a lack of effort before now. According to Automotive News, the German duo have finally identified their sales problems and they plan to take action in a big way.
Two main issues have left the luxury pair at a disadvantage. While some would say selling out of a particular product is a good problem to have, Mercedes-Benz and BMW dealers would likely disagree. Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler told Automotive News the popularity of its GLC compact crossover meant Mercedes-Benz dealers ran out of product to sell—and it happened more than once. A similar situation reared its head at BMW dealers a month prior to the launch of the new X3. Before the next-generation SUV could arrive on sales lots, dealers ran out of previous-generation X3 inventory, which put a damper on the brand's overall sales figures in October.
Both brands at the global headquarters level have pledged to allot to American dealers more inventory of popular models to curb supply issues. A lack of models has also held back both brands in the SUV sales race, which each company plans to address in 2018 and beyond. The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class SUV received a refresh in 2016, which the brand billed as “the S-Class of SUVs” when it was revealed. However, its architecture was merely a warmed-over version of the same platform used by the previous-generation model and not up to the ultra-luxe benchmark set by the S-Class according to those who drove it.
A future GLS, expected to arrive in 2019, is said to up the premium ante—and it may even spawn a Maybach-branded SUV for society's upper crust. Until then, Mercedes-Benz’s most iconic SUV—the rugged 2019 G-Class—will fill the luxury SUV void with its improved, luxury-focused interior accoutrements. The G550 and G63 AMG are both aimed at a more discerning clientele than they have been in the past and will land in dealerships in late 2018. BMW, which only derived 44 percent of its overall sales from SUVs last year, will also bolster its SUV offerings in 2018. It will launch a new X2 crossover this March, followed shortly by a refreshed X4 and X5. A new X7 will arrive in early 2019.